Bishop Nolan, along with other Christian leaders, was present at the annual Pentecost Vigil, organised by Scottish Christians Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA) at Faslane on Saturday 26th May. Read what he had to say about the Catholic position on nuclear weapons.
Looking around I see that many of us are of a certain age. And I greatly appreciate and admire the fact that so many of you have been committed to the cause of nuclear disarmament for a very long time. The young people of today have not lived through the cold war, the Cuban missile crisis and the real threat of nuclear war. They are very passionate though about climate change. We need to tell them that the nuclear weapons housed here will cause a climate change catastrophe, well beyond what our co2 emissions can achieve. For the sake of our climate we want a low carbon economy, but we also need a nuclear free world.
You won’t believe it but last year I was actually at lunch with the Commodore of Faslane. It was a big table and he was not sitting anywhere near me so unfortunately we did not get a chance to chat. I was at a naval base in Plymouth and when I spoke to some of the naval personnel and told them that I had just come back from an anti-nuclear weapons conference in Rome and told them why Pope Francis was against nuclear weapons, I was told: there are those in the navy who would agree with the Pope, but they are government employees so they can’t say.
So even in the military there are those who see the futility of nuclear weapons and question the vast sums of money spent on them. Would that our politicians would give up the kudos of being a nuclear country and having a seat among the big five at the United Nations. Would that they would recognise that these weapons do not bring stability but instability to our world. Would that the government of our country, which signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty way back in 1968, would that they would tell us what steps they are taking today to implement that treaty. We are fortunate that only nine countries have nuclear weapons, but the longer those who have them keep hold of them and enhance them, the more other countries are tempted to go nuclear.
The new nuclear weapons ban treaty has already been signed by 122 countries. It is hoped that this will lead to the possession of nuclear weapons being seen as unacceptable so that those who have them will be shamed into giving them up. Of course there are some countries who do not have weapons of their own but are quite happy to shelter under the nuclear umbrella of another state. That too must be seen as unacceptable.
The struggle against nuclear weapons is not an isolated struggle. The money spent on these weapons could be better spent elsewhere. These are weapons of war, we should be using the money to build up peace, to eliminate the causes of war: the poverty, the insecurity, the injustices which afflict so many. There are those who are dying today because we waste the earth’s resources and misuse the resources of human time and talent to create and maintain this weapon, rather than to nurture and care for this planet and its people.
The campaign for nuclear disarmament depends very much on the power of protest, but as Christians we should never underestimate the power of prayer. We need to pray continually, and encourage our fellow Christians to pray, so that with God’s help human kind will see sense and by ridding the world of these weapons make our world a more peaceful place.
The photo shows Bishop Nolan and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Susan Brown, with the petition, signed by all the church leaders present, calling on the UK to sign the nuclear ban treaty